Spotlight Series

Spotlight: Contemptorary

This summer, Daily Serving is shining a light on the work of some arts publications that we respect, and this week we’re looking at contemptorary. Todays spotlight excerpts an examination of racial politics and “arts freedom” in an interview with poet and performance artist Bhanu Kapil. Co-founders Eunsong Kim and Gelare Khoshgozaran write, “In ‘Title TBD (Part 1)’ Kapil narrates the politics of her embodiment, the difficulty of an arts practice in the institution, and the many frames of attack.” This interview was originally published on September 30, 2016.

Still from Ana Mendieta's Volcán, 1979. From Bhanu Kapil's blog post on Sep 20, 2016 with caption: "This image comes closest to what I could not speak in Ban."

Ana Mendieta. Volcán, 1979 (still). From Bhanu Kapil’s blog post on September 20, 2016, with caption: “This image comes closest to what I could not speak in Ban.”

contemptorary: How have you, and do you, wrestle with the power of the savior narratives of The Artist?


To pre-empt the sacrifice with the auto-sacrifice.

To become the meat in advance.

Or to note the feeling that you are meat.

In the corridor.

To say aloud as you exit the building, which is often a university building: “I am the meat.”

To delete the book in its final stages.

Delete, delete, click.

Update: in the corridor, I involuntarily growled.  I growled like a tiger, faintly so.

Update: I just came from Philadelphia, where I gave a reading at Penn Sound, introduced by the poet–scholar Lucas de Lima. Because I cannot pretend anymore that anything is okay, I couldn’t begin. It was a terrible moment. A moment that I couldn’t integrate and that I understood that I would pay the price for on the aeroplane, as a dump of shame: “I am bad,” versus “I did a bad thing” (guilt) a la the Brene [this should be accented but I can’t figure out how to do that in google docs] Brown TED talk my co-teacher for First Year Seminar recently screened. My only solutions were to look only at Lucas, and then, because I have vowed never to leave a stage feeling ashamed. I recollect a performance I gave at my workplace in 2005, after which my White male colleagues and their wives or ex-wives in the front row of the theater—did not clap. They looked away and down as I got off the stage. And I calmly floated out of the large space with about 100 people in it, perhaps more, to the hotel room the university had booked nearby, as it was a festival, and late at night. And I lay down on the bed and I throbbed lightly, excruciated by this other writing of the body, by having sung to them, by having worn a sari so beautiful that had been stitched with real silver and gold in Pakistan then smuggled back to India. Or perhaps at that time I had not formed or honed my hybrid form to be a healing one, one that would return to a White audience their feeling, too, of being animals, because they like that stuff.

Read the full conversation here.